Bouncing into a pothole could quickly ring up a pricey repair bill

DES MOINES — With the freeze-thaw cycle underway, many Iowa roads are being pockmarked by potholes and avoiding them is almost impossible for motorists. AAA-Iowa spokesman Brian Ortner says if you haven’t done any basic preventive maintenance on your car lately, you might want to do so now.

“Check your tires, make sure that the tread depth is okay, tire pressure’s okay, your suspension and alignment is okay, and then most importantly, keep your eyes on the road,” Ortner says. “Adjust your driving habits a little bit. Scan the road for potholes, drive around any if they’re in your path.”

Suddenly swerving to miss a pothole might cause a collision, so Ortner suggests you scan the pavement for a problem and maneuver to avoid it — before you’re on top of it.

“If you see any standing water or puddles, those may be disguising a deep pothole, so avoid driving through that water if at all possible,” Ortner says, “and there may be times you can’t avoid hitting one and in that case, reduce your speed, avoid braking abruptly, particularly as you go over the potholes.”

If you don’t pay close attention, pounding one of those potholes could cause some serious damage to your vehicle.

“The most common repairs that AAA has seen from a recent survey, tire damage tops the list, alignment’s number two, your wheels are number three, suspension and shocks are in there, and possibly some body damage hits the lower end of that list.”

Replacing a wheel and tire combination can run $500 to $600 on some cars, and suspension damage, like to shocks, struts or tie rods, could quickly bounce into the $1,000 range.